You are probably asking yourself: “Ok Ryan, we talked about Beaming a few weeks ago, now we are talking about Luminous? What’s the difference?” Its pretty simple, as I said about Beaming was projecting your Unconditional Passion to others. Being Luminous means lighting up your learners with that same passion and having fun along the way. Most educators think the fun is to come during the learning and that’s very true. Some of my most memorable lessons were ones I had fun when I was learning, but the ones I can recall moment by moment like Mrs. Larson’s puppet book report years ago was because I could see the fun she injected before, during and after she taught us how we were to do our puppet show book report. Sometimes as teachers we forget that while learning should be fun we expect it to happen at the end but the real fun should should start at the very beginning when you are creating your lesson or project. During my internship when I was completing my master’s I was working with a set of teachers from 3rd-5th grade working with on their iPad one to one program, it was while I was working my mentor, Jenni she was talking to me about a history lesson we had to create and had to inject the use of the iPad into the lesson but she told me the students needed to have fun before, during and after the lesson otherwise we would lose them. I asked what the subject was and she told me it was a history lesson about currency during the 1800s. I immediately told her they should do a quick search on coins and money used at the time. They would then pick out ones that caught their eye and would then create a digital coin collection on it and then have to do a brief profile on each coin and where it was used and how much it was worth and when and why it ended circulation. She loved the idea and we went on to create the lesson.
A few days later we went to the 5th grade class and I opened up asking if they knew what a coin collection was. Their eyes opened up and their hands went into the air. I then asked if you the money could talk, what kind of stories would it tell. I saw pretty much everyone in the classroom eyebrows go up including the teacher. This is where I knew I already had them and finished by saying we were going to go on a coin collecting trip through history. I explained what they would do, how they would do it but I also left it up to them how they wanted to write or tell their stories about their coins. Well, before too long the students were typing away on their iPads looking for their coins, checking their dates in their books and of course asking questions along the way. I don’t think at that point saw a set of 10-11 year olds having so much fun researching, collecting and writing about their historical coin collecting. Now, I said that the fun should come before, during and after the lesson, so how were these students and myself having fun right afterwards? In my case after the lesson was over I was using my lesson to create more lessons both on paper and using the iPad at my little table in the LRC and the director looking over at me typing away and turning her to her assistant and saying: “He’s having fun.” Followed by a few giggles and I was. The fun was flowing from beginning to end as I worked on my next lesson or tried to help create another one with my fellow teachers.
As for my students, one of my students had art that day and was telling the art teacher a way they could use the iPad for their collage project in the same way they did their coin collection lesson and she loved it. So much that soon a few other students were asking their other teachers if they could try out the same technique but also try it a different way. I think the best was when I saw one of my 3rd grade teachers caught wind of the what we did with the coin collecting lesson and tried it with one of his English lessons for a word work exercise. I have to tell you, that teacher loved to have fun with everything he did and when I saw him that day getting his students into the lesson you could feel the fun of learning happening throughout the hallway to PE. I remember a few days later I had several teachers in the school email Jenni and I about making more lessons like that and as they said, the fun began all over again. About a year later, I left the school after completing my master’s and took a job at another school to help head up their iPad program and about six months after I started the position I paid a visit to the school to see where they were. Popping into a few of my old haunts, I saw the teachers still having fun with their lessons and the students were right there too just having a ball. While I will go into technology at another time, but this was a great way how you can make sure you are having fun during your teaching and how to add it to your students learning.
- Start with the fun.
Years ago in middle school one of my science teachers grabbed our attention by saying one word: “peanuts.” We didn’t know why he said it but it sounded fun. He ended up teaching us a tally and statistics lesson with peanuts. We had to open them up, count how many peanuts were in each shell, tally them up and then we could eat them. My classmates and I learned more about tallying, statistics and how to determine how many peanut plants would produce the said number of nuts per plant that I ever did. Afterwards we were talking about it all the way to math class where I used what I just learned to help me finish what would have been homework that day early in class. Now, that was having fun before, during and after the lesson.
2. Not everyone is going to have fun. Let’s face it, no matter how much we try, no matter how much we or our students have fun during a lesson or project, that same feeling isn’t felt by everyone.
Remember that coin collection lesson I just talked about? As much as it sounded like it was a slam dunk lesson with everyone, it wasn’t. In fact I had two students that were find looking for coins but when it came to researching them, they weren’t having any fun at all. I remember one of them calling me over and going: “Mr Read… this coin just says the date and how much it was worth.” “How can I write about that?” I turned to them and asked well, do all coins last that you use when you go shopping. They told me no, I then told them, that maybe they should think about why a coin was only around for two years and basically was worth two cents. One of them lit up going: “Because it wasn’t used very much.” I told them they got it. The other student still didn’t think they were going to have much of a report since their classmates had found better coins they wanted to use. I replied that I never told them they couldn’t use the same coin. I asked if I had a penny and they had a penny could we say the same about it. The student didn’t even hesitate, they immediately told me “no” and told me every coin is different even if they look the same. I told them to write about that and away they went.
As I mentioned earlier about the difference between learning and making a recipe is when you do that, some are going to have fun making that recipe and others are going to feel like they are doing what someone else is doing. Not a lot of learning or fun right there but when decides to look at it from a different angle, the fun returns and that is the trick. Not everyone is going to have fun doing a lesson or project and they might immediately decide once you utter the words of the said lesson that they aren’t going to have any fun. The trick to rolling out fun is to show a student or teacher where the fun can be found. Once they see where the fun is, they won’t have too much trouble continuing with it. Its all about lighting up your lessons and being a beacon of light that ignites learning.